College-Survival Guide

ImageFor my beautiful, ‘wee’ cousin Azaria who starts college today.

  1. Don’t take yourself (or anyone else) too seriously.
  2. Treasure your tribe: look after your friends and family who will look after you on those ‘dark night of your soul’ moments.
  3. Focus: remember why you’re at college (not to become the campus Flaming Sambuca champion).
  4. Be distracted. When will you next have the chance to join 3,495 clubs and become a kung fu, grandmaster, whisky-tastin’ yogi? Or flaming Sambuca champion?
  5. Do your best every day. If not, then why bother? And remember, your best today, isn’t the same as your best tomorrow…
  6. Use your summer (winter, and all) breaks wisely. Tend bar in Tonga, intern in Western Kenya, be a ski instructor in Austria, just do something that doesn’t involve working in a shop/ office 5 miles from your parents’ house.
  7. Learn beyond your classroom. People, the planet and life are weird and amazing. Take advantage of being in this strange laboratory called college. Go explore.
  8. Say no, and mean it. Especially to that dude in the student bar who doesn’t understand that he’s not Jake Gyllenhaal.
  9. Say yes. Don’t be like your big cousin Nats, who took a decade to figure out the benefits of spontaneity.
  10. Discover yourself. Read Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations and bring on the self-awareness. This will help you forever to be kind to yourself and others.
  11. Learn self-defense. But not just the karate bits.
  12. It’s not about being liked. So don’t do something you really don’t want to do.
  13. It’s all in your head. And in theirs. Just ’cause someone wasn’t super-smiley today isn’t your fault. And no-one made you do that. So…
  14. Learn to listen, really listen. Because the stuff in your head will translate what that other person said and cause you lots of problems.
  15. Get a job during term time. This is your chance to figure out if you actually would like being a ballerina/ astronaut/ brain scientist/ vet.
  16. Breathe. Not that automatic stuff our cerebellum brain stem is in charge of, but the deep, bottom-of-your-lung-chill-you-out action that will help life seem a little easier.
  17. Carry a condom. This doesn’t instantly manifest ‘slut’ on your forehead. It’s about being prepared, and caring about your health.
  18. Love your body. Don’t spend a single second complaining about your bum/ nose/ thighs/ arms/ stomach/ whatever.
  19. Develop a relationship with your intuition. Don’t trust it blindly, but ignore it at your peril.
  20. And finally, don’t forget that your parents love you. This is the hardest thing they will ever have to go through. You are the most precious and wonderful project they’ve ever done together. They are scared sh*tless and will do some crazy things to counteract their fears. Send them regular updates, call so they can hear your voice, let them know that you’re ok and that you love them too. Plus, one day, you’ll turn out just like them.

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